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Ministry of Pensions.

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Services Supplementary Estimates, 1919–20. – in the House of Commons on 9th December 1919.

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Photo of Mr Worthington Evans Mr Worthington Evans , Colchester

I think, as this is a very large sum, the Committee would like me to give a brief explanation of how the increase arises. I will first give a short summary of the principal increases. There is an increase of £10,000,000 due to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Pensions for the increase of pensions and allowances. That is exclusive of another £2,000,000 which is included in some figures I will give as to the cost of treatment. There are other small improvements in pensions, including 20 per cent. bonus on officers' pensions and various other minor improvements which have been announced to the House from time to time, and which cost £2,000,000 this year There is an increase in the cost of treatment and allowances to men undergoing treatment of £10,000,000. That is due not merely to the increased cost of treatment, but chiefly to the larger number of men undergoing treatment, and to the increased allowances payable to them while they are undergoing treatment. The amount is £10,000,000, but £2,000,000 are due to the Select Committee Report. I gave the amount as £10,000,000 because the £2,000,000 is included in the other figure. There is increased cost of £5,700,000 in pensions and allowances due to a larger number of men coming into pensions in this current year and partly due to the fact that men have come into pensions earlier than would otherwise have taken place because of the speeding up in the Ministry of Pensions. The sum of £2,100,000 is due to an extra pay day falling in the financial year. Only one day of that week is within this year, but it happens to be the pay day, so that the whole is debited to this year, although six days ought to come into the year 1920–21. Administration, travelling and incidental expenses are increased by £2,200,000. That is a brief summary in very round figures showing the amount of £32,000,000.

I will in a moment give the Committee further information, if they desire it, as to the actual increases and a brief explanation of the reasons, but before I do that perhaps the Committee would like to know what the number of officers, men, women and children is that are now receiving pensions. There is a total of pensioned beneficiaries on one account or another of 2,621,313 persons. The officers and nurses receiving pensions amount to 33,876, and the men of other ranks to 1,025,460; widows of officers, 9,775; widows of other ranks, 179,7112; parents of other dependants of officers, 5,680 of other ranks, 327,820; children of officers and of officers' widows, 9,112; children of other ranks, 1,029,878—and that brings up the total to 2,621,313. The numbers of beneficiaries have largely increased in the last few months, and a good many of the increases in the sub-heads are due directly and solely to this cause. If the Committee will allow me, I will briefly run through the sub-heads giving the increases, and, shortly, the causes for them, and then if any hon. Member has any questions he would like me to deal with in greater detail I can give the information when I reply. Take Subheads A and B, dealing with salaries, wages and allowances and travelling and incidental expenses. There has been a very large increase in these two sub-heads, and I think hon. Members are entitled to know why the administration expenses appear to have gone up so largely. The number of the staff at headquarters and at regional headquarters is 19,759. This is the total staff, male and female, employed at headquarters and at regional headquarters. There are 6,122 men, and of that total 86 per cent. of them are ex-Service men. Of the women there are employed 10,021 on administrative and clerical work. There are employed in connection with the institutions and hospitals, including matrons, nurses and domestic servants at those institutions, 1,591, and there are in the various offices juveniles—that is, women under eighteen and part-time cleaners—numbering about 1,300.